NAIROBI, June 6 – Rwandese Meddie Kagere or Luanda Magere as he is venerated by Gor Mahia faithful sparked frenzy at Moi Stadium in Kisumu when he sunk the only goal to ensure the champions wrapped up the first leg of the 2015 Kenyan Premier League unbeaten on Saturday.
According to Luo folklore, Magere of Sidho clan in Kano was a fearless warrior the type never seen to date and when Gor needed a player with battling qualities to step up; Kagere rose to sink in the header that settled the fierce contest against fellow local titans Tusker for the maximum points.
His celebration, with a tinge of defiance as he raised his jersey over his head told it all. It took every sinew in Frank Nuttal’s side to breakdown the brewers who had the better of the first half as they put their unbeaten record on the line for the final time before the June break.
After the intense encounter, there was no time for either coach, starting with Tusker’s Francis Kimanzi as an overjoyed mob flooded the pitch in manic celebration, sweeping away the SuperSport prop, presenter and Kimanzi aside in the process.
To them, only one thing mattered. Victory. Especially, since Tusker were earmarked as the most capable to inflict a first defeat, with tension seeping through Gor’s ranks such that they switched the match venue from Nairobi’s City Stadium to Kisumu, their spiritual home and the lakeside capital Magere was said to have bestrode like a colossus.
In the early kick-off at the same venue Allan Katerega struck late as Ushuru beat hosts Western Stima while at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium Nakuru All Stars held Mathare United to a goalless draw.
Chemelil Sugar fired blanks to settle for a barren draw with Muhoroni Youth to wrap up Saturday’s Kenyan Premier League action.
But all focus was on Gor versus Tusker, a grand fixture of yore.
The back-to back champions who came in motivated after Deputy President, William Ruto paid return tickets to Kisumu and a further Sh500, 000.
At the end, they set KPL history by ending the first-leg unbeaten as they stay on cause to defend the title for a third time in a row, leading the log on 39 points.
Kagere who was dormant in a goalless first-half powerfully headed past Tusker keeper Martin Musalia from a Karim Nzugiyimana pin point cross to light up the Kisumu to tie with teammate Ali Abondo at the top of the scoring charts on nine apiece ahead of the two-week break.
The win saw K’Ogalo beat Tusker for the first time in four matches, with Kimanzi who did well to contain the champions in the first-half admitting it was a tough match before his post match interview was cut short by the rancorous Green Army supporters who invaded the pitch.
“Tough one, tough one but we did our best. We lost to a team that is in great form,” a disappointed Kimanzi uttered before the mayhem.
The former Harambee Stars boss, made two changes from the squad that beat Sony Sugar 2-0 last weekend, relegating keeper Faruk Shikhalo to the bench for the experienced Musalia and Brian Osumba returning for winger Patrick Oboya.
Nuttall, he maintained his winning team that saw Michael Olunga come close twice only to be denied by Musalia in a first-half that both sides preferred to play cautiously.
The defensive stylish of play for Kimanzi seemed to work in the hard tackling opening half with Lloyd Wahome and Jockins Atudo completely shutting out K’Ogalo dangerman Kagere and Abondo.
In the midfield, Collins Okoth was sensational to ensure former team-mate Jesse Were and Osumba does not get a chance to break through.
The hosts were in the ascendancy for the first 15 minutes through unmarked Olunga who forced Musalia to parry over his left foot shot from a tight angle, five minutes after kick-off.
Tusker who were sitting back playing with Were as the lone striker, came close at the quarter hour mark when Humphrey Mieno struck from 25 from Gor captain Musa Mohammed’s miscued pass but keeper Boniface Oluoch was alert.
Ten minutes later, Were squandered a gilt edged opportunity to send his side ahead, when Kevin Kimani put him through but Oluoch who came off his line to rescue as he sought his ninth shutout of the season.
Gor resumed on a high with Abuoba Sibomana header hitting the side post from Abondo’s corner with Musalia beaten.
Kimanzi withdrew Osumba to hand Ronald Musana his debut after signing him recently from KCB while Nuttall brought in Innocent Wafula for Geofrey Walusimbi.
Kagere picked his form, forcing Musalia to tip over his header from Abondo set-piece but could not stop the Rwandan header seven minutes later.
The Tusker boss did a double substitution pulling out former Gor defender Donald Mosoti and Fredrick Onyango for left-back Aboud Omar and Stephen Owusu but none could restore parity to put Kimanzi’s job on the life line after succumbing to his fifth loss of the season.